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The Glory Days

 

Our parents certainly were not glory hounds. But I’ve discovered that remembering, celebrating and even memorializing their big life events is, well, a big deal for them.

Who doesn’t love going back to a time when life was a little sweeter and better, at least in our memories? My mother-in-law’s glory days were her 35 years as a Dairy Queen owner. And we were all surprised by how she wanted to relive them.

Just before her 85th birthday, after she had been retired for 20 years, this normally non-party gal stunned us by announcing she wanted a Dairy Queen birthday reunion. Part of the request was that we track down as many of her DQ “girls” as we could find to help this mom of three boys celebrate her big day. So we did. And it was a blast. Sixteen alumni showed up for a luncheon that the local press covered. My mom-in-law reveled in it all, from start to finish.

My dad got to revive his glory days earlier this month when he was inducted into his high school’s athletic hall of fame.

Having just turned 91, he’d seemed depressed about declining mobility and growing older, and he was in a lot of pain from his arthritis. Aside from worries he wouldn’t be up to attending the event and that people would think less of him with a walker, he seemed to get more excited as the big day approached.

People stopped by to get all the details about the undefeated 1942 football team for the plaque. Dad regaled everyone with play-by-play color commentary of each winning football game that year, and how he was just a half-inch away from taking home a state shot put gold medal in track and field. He was measured for his hall of fame ring, and photographed too. My brother and his family traveled hundreds of miles to be with us. The day of the event, Dad was shaky but made it there long enough to get his award and feel the love.

The next day he was showing off his new finger bauble and still basking in the limelight.

Honoring a senior’s glory days brings a little fun and a whole lot of dignity to older adults whose minds and bodies are declining a bit more each day. It’s a way to go back to a time when they were at the top of their game. After all, don’t we deserve to be the star of our own lives, even for a while?

You don’t have to plan a big party or event to recognize someone’s glory days. All you do is start the conversation and the glory days will come flooding back in living color. Trust me on this.

These events got me to thinking: Must the glory days be the old days? Sometimes it seems that way. Do you think so? I’m wondering how I can bring a little glory to these days and years of sadness and loss for our aging parents.

Maybe it’s as simple as being there, to remind them of who they were and still are.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. August 2, 2015 at 9:39 am | Posted by Georgene

    What a wonderful memory Karen! Events like this are meaningful not just for the honoree, but guests and family as well. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  2. July 26, 2015 at 11:40 am | Posted by Lori

    Both of these seniors were (and are) icons in their communities. I know that whenever I mention that I am George Cetak's daughter-in-law everyone says what a lovable man he is. I know Camille loved her DQ girls like daughters and that George still loves sports of all kinds. Thanks for sharing this Georgene.

    Reply

  3. July 23, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Posted by Michael

    Dairy Queen and football... great days for both. Love your writing, and your family even more!

    Reply

  4. July 23, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Posted by Karen Waldron

    When we got Mom's cancer diagnosis on March 5, 2015, one of the first things she said she wanted was a party. Since we weren't sure how much time she had left, we decided to have it on Sunday, April 12th. My brother did most of the work making the arrangements and we started contacting relatives to see who could be there. Even though she had declined significantly in health by the day of the party and said she didn't want to go, we were able to convince her (with some help from her 4-year old great-granddaughter) that everyone would be happy to see her. Turned out 65 relatives were there from all over the country -- Florida, Connecticut, Michigan, Pennsylvania -- and locally and she got to speak to just about everyone. She wasn't able to stick around for the meal, but from what everyone told us, just the fact that she was there and they were able to see her and talk to her, some for the last time, was special. Mom passed away on May 1, 2015 and even now, those who were there still comment on what a wonderful time everyone had and the fact that they were able to celebrate Mom's life while she was still with us.

    Reply

    • August 1, 2015 at 8:39 pm | Posted by Georgene

      What a great story, Karen. Thank you for sharing. Those times together turn out to be important for everyone, not just the senior being honored.

      Reply

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